About eleven years back I started running. It was my fortieth birthday present to myself. I was determined to get into some healthy and athletic shape. This from a girl who walked around with leg braces (Thanks Osgood Schlatter’s Disease) in high school . I did some research and found that it was associated with growth and not forever. I get the ok from my doctor at my pre birthday exam to start working out.
Commenced Higdon’s program to get going. No, of course I didn’t follow it to the letter.
I did my first 5 K at Great Lakes Naval Station. There was this fellow at the end of the race that really knocked my ego. It put all the encouragement my family and neighbors gave me out of my mind and heart; it crushed me. He was antsy to get his award, as he had somewhere to be and they were going to wait for the last runner.
I wasn’t the last. I didn’t place. I came in under forty-five minutes. The last runner was overweight. Took him over an hour. The majority of the runners stayed at the finish line and yelled the guy in. Some even wentqwaszxcz out to help pace and encourage him in the last few hundred feet. Not, unlike what my neighbors and husband did for me. They came out to meet me and run me in. I made them get back on the other side. I wanted to cross by myself. It was an ego thing.
I let that one guy ruin it for me. One guy. Stupid me.
I continued to run, but by myself, maybe with my husband, or a family member. Alone. No events no racing. I have dropped off running twice now since then. It has taken some time to realize that I have a love hate thing going on with running and exercise in general. Love swimming. Bicycling. Running. (Yes, I know there are triathlons out there. I am toying with training for one. An easy one. A slow mover friendly one. Will see.)
Cut to this year. Back in the shoes again. First race was in April. I didn’t start training for it until March. I finished. Dead last. One hour thirteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds. My husband who walked the whole thing with me, (I walked it didn’t run), placed second in his age. The man can run circles around me. He found it funny. I was relieved. I mean, he stayed with me the whole race, of course the guy deserved a medal! It was awesome. I hyperventilated the whole way. Couldn’t run much.
I can’t run in a pack. I hate crowds. Stage fright way bad. That first race, stuck with me, standing at the finish line listening to the one loud jerk.
So I signed up for an endurance run. Ten hours. Half mile horse track. With over two hundred other people. Thinking? If I put myself in the situation that I fear the most for the longest possible time available, I have to get over that fear, right?
So much for self diagnosis and treatment. I nearly quit after seven miles, about halfway through the race. So, I took a nap. I wasn’t leaving the site until the end. I woke up to my friends, Melissa, Tammi, Kristy and Maurica chatting outside my tent.
They didn’t push or prod. They ran their races. Worked towards their goals. Talked about their issues and how they planned on dealing with the pain, the blisters, the pacing problems. They made suggestions. They shared their gear, food, water supply, chairs, etc. They didn’t quit. They didn’t let each other quit.
I didn’t quit. It took a while and one of my buddies, Kristy, stayed back with me for a while. She had met her goal. We talked. She helped me gear back up and get back out there for one more lap. One more half mile.
I made it. There was till nearly two hours left in the race. A quick calculation walking from the timer chute to the track exit. Eleven more laps would meet my goal, that’s all I had to do. Averaging 10 minutes a lap, yes, that meant 20 minute miles Most anyone could do five and half miles in two hours. I had a good friend walk six miles with me in two hours two weeks ago. It was possible I could still end the race with goal in hand.
So, I walked. One lap at a time. One half mile closer at a time.
Then. Again. That one guy.
Only this guy, he was the big winner. Being walked in the last lap by family, three abroad. In front of me. My last curve before the finish line. How bad I wanted to run it. I had to get around that one guy. The fast guy. The guy that had gone farther. The Man.
I debated the whole last straightway. Do I say something? I didn’t know if I had the energy burst to go out and up the track to get around. I mean, I hadn’t trained to run a half marathon. I had been barely trained for a 5K. We were in the single digit minutes counting down to hour ten, I couldn’t see the time until after I was out of the curve. Was I willing to be the jerk or just let it go?
I was the jerk.
I said, “Excuse me!”
“I need to get around. I know this is your race and I am not in your league, but I want to finish and make my goal. So sorry.”
I almost stopped running when I heard his reply.
“Go on. This isn’t my race. My race is over. This is your race. Finish it!”
I could have cried, except I had to finish the race.
I made my goal. In ten hours. With a nap.
I ran with a pack of people. Sure, there are going to be jerks. They are everywhere in everything, as my friend pointed out after the race. BUT, for every one of those, there is at least one, if not ten, that aren’t.